Caterpillars to Butterflies in FDK

This is my third year raising caterpillars in the classroom!

It is always such a neat experience for the kids.

Here are some of my favourite activities/ways I encourage observation and wonderings.


This year we read the book Katy Duck Is a Caterpillar to activate our schema about spring.  It is a fiction text but a fun one that you can practice many skills with (such as making personal connections, inferencing etc.)

After we read the story we brainstormed and wrote about what we would want to be if we were in a spring dance recital like Katy Duck:

Here is a student sample.

"If I was in the spring dance recital I would want to be a turtle.  I would want to be a turtle because they are cute."


This year we were lucky to have the box delivered during the day! We put our regular activities on hold and gathered at the carpet.  We told the kids there is a surprise inside the box and we gave them three clues about it.  Then the kids took turns making a prediction about what they thought was inside the box.

We opened the box and I walked around so that the kids could take a peek inside the container.  So many of them thought they were ants! One of our SK's remembered doing this last year and correctly guessed that they were caterpillars.

After school we mixed the food and transferred 2-3 caterpillars into each container.  Now they were ready for the kids to observe!


The next day we started observing our caterpillars! The special helper completed a page in our "Room 130's Caterpillar, Pupa & Butterfly Observation Book".  Some students recorded observations on the I see/I think/I wonder sheet you see below.

Each day the special helper writes the new day, check off which stage the butterfly is in and write an observation sentence by finishing the stem "I see..."  We also encourage them to look closely and draw a picture as well.

"I see a caterpillar growing.  It is getting longer."

Here is an example of how the kids are using the I see/I think/I wonder sheets:

I see the caterpillars climbing the net.
I think they are going to be a pupa on the weekend.
I wonder when they will become a butterfly.

Around Day 6 we set out this invitation for the kids to count the caterpillars.

There were 18 caterpillars.  We will use this number when they start to become pupas and keep track of how many pupas and caterpillars there are each day (decomposing numbers).  You can grab the recording sheets by clicking on the image below.


1. Design Your Own Butterfly

While we were reading the book "From Caterpillar to Butterfly" by Deborah Heiligman...

my ECE and I found this awesome page where it shows us different butterfly species and their names.  We thought that this would lend to a great discussion on making inferences on why each butterfly is named that.

After the lesson we introduced this printable and asked the students to make their own butterfly, give it a name and write why they named it that.

Here is my example:

You can grab this printable for free by clicking on the image below!

2. My Book of Butterfly Words

My kids love these thematic word booklets! The booklet includes egg, caterpillar, pupa, chrysalis and butterfly.

The kids colour the word, trace the word, print the word and colour a matching picture.  I shared this with my teammates as well and they said that their kids loved the booklet too!

3. Butterfly Fiction & Non-Fiction Books
(for the Reading Centre)

Here are some of our favourite caterpillar/butterfly books that we had on our bookshelf while the caterpillars/butterflies were in our classroom.

They are all pretty good but our favourites were:

From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman
Bye, Bye, Butterflies! by Andrew Larson

4. Butterfly Play Dough and Loose Parts Play

Here is another independent centre idea!

I set out some play dough with black pipe cleaners, beads, butterfly sequin, googly eyes and flower and butterfly cookie cutters.

They were encouraged to create a butterfly, flower, a pattern or anything else they wanted!

I got the cookie cutters at Michaels.


We haven't released our butterflies yet (they are still just starting to create chrysalides) but this is my favourite read aloud for when we do release them.  A few days after all of the butterflies have emerged out of their chrysalides we take our butterfly net outside.  We sit in a circle and read this book.  

It is the perfect book to read before releasing the butterflies!

Then we open the net and gently help the butterflies out of the net.  If they cooperate, we put the butterflies on the kids hands until they fly away.  If you rub a piece of orange on the kids hands they will stay on the hands a little longer and some butterflies will even drink the orange juice off their kids hands!

If you are interested in checking out any of the resources you see in this blog post you can find them in my Butterfly Observation Book and Other Printables unit on TPT.

I hope you were able to get some new ideas for your butterfly observations!

What are your favourite activities for observing caterpillars grow?

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